Author Topic: Car Question: miles, or age?  (Read 1161 times)

SavinMaven

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Car Question: miles, or age?
« on: June 21, 2020, 06:51:21 PM »
Which matters more when estimating how much life is left in a car? I know it's an impossible question for an individual vehicle without a crystal ball... but wondering which those who know cars weigh more heavily.

A 2013 Camry, for example, with just under 58k miles. In reading other threads around here, seems most cars can go 12-14 years, 150k-180k miles before repairing is no longer worthwhile for most.

At 8,000 miles/year average driving though, it would take this car 18 years to hit 150k. Is that realistic? Which is generally the driving (no pun intended) force in wear, the miles or the absolute age of the car?

I do all the recommended maintenance in the manual on time - but, almost all of the miles are "in town" miles. Very little highway driving.

Any thoughts appreciated as I think about financial plans for the years to come.

RWD

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Re: Car Question: miles, or age?
« Reply #1 on: June 21, 2020, 08:12:48 PM »
Neither. What matters most is current condition and maintenance. Assuming you keep up on maintenance the things (outside of an accident) most likely to end a vehicle's useful service life are rust and parts unavailability. There are 20+ year old cars that have been driven over 1 million miles. There's nothing magical about 150k or 200k miles. At some point you just get into a continuous cycle of replacing parts as they wear out. This is sustainable nearly indefinitely on some reliable cars with reasonable parts cost and untenable on less reliable cars with higher parts costs.

Whether it's worth replacing a vehicle when it can still be repaired depends on your personal needs and how much you drive (for fuel cost calculations).

acepedro45

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Re: Car Question: miles, or age?
« Reply #2 on: June 21, 2020, 10:12:12 PM »
I think the answer is generally age for popular economy cars like the Camry you are considering, for the reasons that RWD cited. Good Japanese powertrains can keep going pretty much indefinitely with proper maintenance, so rust becomes the likely killer later on. For something like the Camry, parts are going to be plentiful for a long time.

One thing to keep in mind: with your intended driving pattern of limited city miles, you may not get to the lofty mileage totals like 180-200k that many report. That's a tougher pattern on the car than racking up much less punishing highway miles. But 150k is definitely doable on a Camry. 


alsoknownasDean

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Re: Car Question: miles, or age?
« Reply #3 on: June 22, 2020, 05:22:11 AM »
I've gone by 15 years/250,000km, with anything more than that being a bonus.

If it hasn't rusted out or been crashed, you'll be able to get more than that, but it seems that after that point, any major mechanical issues cost more to fix than the market value of the car (or lots of minor issues), so most people replace the car at that point. I don't see many vehicles prior to about 1996 on the roads anymore, and an awful lot of the pre-2000 vehicles I still see on the roads are Toyotas.

Although given the choice between a nine year old car with 40,000km and a four year old car with 200,000km (assuming prices are similar), I'd go the newer vehicle. More likely to have done it's kilometres on the freeway so it's easier on the driveline than short trips in stop-start traffic, servicing is likely to have been done regularly, and a newer vehicle generally has better safety equipment.

With a 2013 Camry with 58k miles, it's currently seven years old. If it's driven 8000 miles per annum, at age 15 it's got 122k miles on the clock. Barring any major mechanical fault (or rust), a 15 year old Camry with 122,000 miles on the clock should still be fine.

For what it's worth, three of the five cars I've owned I've owned until they've over 15 years of age. Two of those cars reached 18 years (including what I'm driving now), and the other one was totaled at 16 years. A number of the cars my parents owned when I was younger were ready to be replaced at around the 260-280,000km point.
« Last Edit: June 22, 2020, 05:28:34 AM by alsoknownasDean »

RWD

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Re: Car Question: miles, or age?
« Reply #4 on: June 22, 2020, 07:46:01 AM »
For what it's worth, three of the five cars I've owned I've owned until they've over 15 years of age. Two of those cars reached 18 years (including what I'm driving now), and the other one was totaled at 16 years.

My personal vehicle history:
19 years old: 1987 Toyota crashed (had over 200k miles)
12 years old: 1995 Nissan truck sold and not replaced (no longer needed a truck)
15 years old: 1995 Subaru with rod knock sold and replaced with newer car
22 years old: 1991 Toyota sold and replaced with new car (had around 200k miles)
12 years old: 2005 Subaru crashed (had over 200k miles)
7 years old: 2013 Subaru sold and replaced with more practical car

martyconlonontherun

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Re: Car Question: miles, or age?
« Reply #5 on: June 22, 2020, 08:12:57 AM »
My general though is newer, high mileage. Newer cars usually have nicer features and if they are racking up 30k a year it is probably mostly highway miles.

A little more risky but Ive had good luck with are used rentals. Figure if it is a bland-midsize  car you are less likely to get some beating the crap out of it. Also assuming it is regularly checked, maintained, etc and most of the miles are for people putting on long road trips on highways and doing their best no to ding it up and end up getting charged upon return. My assumptions could be totally wrong.

nereo

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Re: Car Question: miles, or age?
« Reply #6 on: June 22, 2020, 08:36:39 AM »
Which matters more when estimating how much life is left in a car? I know it's an impossible question for an individual vehicle without a crystal ball... but wondering which those who know cars weigh more heavily.

A 2013 Camry, for example, with just under 58k miles. In reading other threads around here, seems most cars can go 12-14 years, 150k-180k miles before repairing is no longer worthwhile for most.

I would refute this assumption.  Lots of people want to buy a new(er) car, and so they do all sorts of fuzzy math to reach the conclusion that it's more economical to scrap the car and buy a new(er) one.  It's confirmation bias at work.  But as RWD said, there's nothing "magical" about 150k or 200k, and you just get into a cycle of repairing parts.  Those repairs, even at $1-2k/year (ave) are still much cheaper than buying a new(er) vehicle... because: depreciation and opportunity cost.  The depreciation curve is nearly flat once you pass 120k or so.  Then there's the added bonus of cheap insurance rates.

Rust will ultimately destroy cars beyond repir (ask me how I know) but it's very regional dependent. 


At 8,000 miles/year average driving though, it would take this car 18 years to hit 150k. Is that realistic? Which is generally the driving (no pun intended) force in wear, the miles or the absolute age of the car?
Yup.  But again, it's highly dependent on the driver and the environment.  If you are in an area that uses a ton of road salt, and you have to store your car outdoors, and you can't wash it frequently... it's probably not going to last 18 years even if you drive 5,000 miles/year (well before it's 100,000 "birthday").  This was our scenario until recently.  But if you live in an area that gets mild winters and garage your car, there's no reason why your car can't last 20+ years with regular maintenance and 8,000miles/year of driving.  I'd suggest you are a great candidate for a car that will last 30 years.  Start looking around and you see them everywhere... cars that were build in the early 1990s are still on the road with enough frequency that I see one almost every time I drive.

I do all the recommended maintenance in the manual on time - but, almost all of the miles are "in town" miles. Very little highway driving.

Any thoughts appreciated as I think about financial plans for the years to come.
Forget highway/city driving.  How YOU drive and how YOU maintain the car matters more.  If you ride the brakes and slam on the accelerator frequetnly it will take its toll.  If you drive conservatively but rarely get on the freeway your car will last decades (plural).  An often under looked factor is how many very short trips you take (< 2 miles and/or < 5 minutes (total)).  If you are in the habit of driving somewhere very close and parking the car for a while, the engine never has time to get up to temp, and it results (as I understand it) in condensation, which leads to corrosion and rust problems inside your engine and exhaust manifold.  Do your car, yourself, and the environment a favor and avoid very short trips whenever you can.


Final Thoughts:  My personal opinion is that (with only a few random "lemon" exceptions) EVERY car has the potential to exceed 200,000 miles and beyond on "normal" maintenance (i.e. not replacing the entire engine) IF you can control rust AND you drive it right.  That doesn't mean every car will, but the data shows that a large percentage of makes/models achieve this milestone once you factor out vehicles taken out of service due to crashes.
Here's one (of many) articles detailing the increased longevity of cars: https://www.nytimes.com/2012/03/18/automobiles/as-cars-are-kept-longer-200000-is-new-100000.html?_r=2&ref=business&pagewanted=all&
« Last Edit: June 22, 2020, 09:34:35 AM by nereo »

Greystache

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Re: Car Question: miles, or age?
« Reply #7 on: June 22, 2020, 09:13:07 AM »
My experience with maintaining two older cars is that mileage and maintenance matter most for the drive train, and age matters most for everything else.  I have a 15 year old Chevy with 150K miles and an 18 year old Pontiac with 130K miles. Both drive trains have been trouble free. What I am seeing is plastic and rubber parts and electronics issues crop up as the cars age.  These are typically inexpensive to fix, but a PITA non the less.

reverend

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Re: Car Question: miles, or age?
« Reply #8 on: July 10, 2020, 10:53:41 PM »
With cars you have highway miles better than city/stop-and-go miles.
Sitting is fine, but rubber parts will age out somewhat faster if they don't get hot and lubricated once in a while, so you could end up with leaks if it sits for too long without running.
Age will rot out rubber hoses (coolant, heater hoses, power steering hoses, etc.) whether you use the car or not.

An oil analysis every 50 K miles doesn't hurt, it will tell you if anything is wrong with the engine internals.

From what you've said, I'd try to combine my errands so most of them are done at the same time. This is still stop & go traffic, but you drive the car for 30-45-60 minutes or more and get it fully hot. This will evaporate condensate out of the engine and crankcase to ensure the oil is happier and everything is up to operating temp (which is good).  Then it can sit a month, and then you repeat it.  That will get you the most of of it.

Keep up on transmission fluid changes (for my car it's every 75K miles) and oil changes (I do mine every 12K miles, but I have a turbo so I prefer to do them more often than not to have 'margin' in the oil).  Park it in the garage if you can, to minimize sun damage to paint and rubber stuff.  Keep it washed and bird shit off of it so the paint holds up longer.  When the car looks better, you care for it better.


A 2013 Camry, for example, with just under 58k miles. In reading other threads around here, seems most cars can go 12-14 years, 150k-180k miles before repairing is no longer worthwhile for most.

At 8,000 miles/year average driving though, it would take this car 18 years to hit 150k. Is that realistic? Which is generally the driving (no pun intended) force in wear, the miles or the absolute age of the car?

I do all the recommended maintenance in the manual on time - but, almost all of the miles are "in town" miles. Very little highway driving.


FatFI2025

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Re: Car Question: miles, or age?
« Reply #9 on: July 11, 2020, 09:43:01 AM »
I think for mustachians, age will be a driving (pun!) factor more than mileage. The drive trains of modern cars tend to easily last 150K-200K miles, but the rest of the systems start failing at 15 years or so. If you're only driving 8K per year, you'll hit that 15 year mark before the 200K mark.

There's also the issue of safety features -- a similar car 15 years newer will be a lot safer than the older one. I know I would feel like a schmuck if I was driving a 20 y/o car and got injured in a wreck. Great, I saved $10K on the car only to lose $50K in wages while I recovered!

Right now I have a 2014 Fusion Energi that weighs 4,000 lbs. and is incredibly affordable to drive. Barring any major issues, I plan to keep it until it's 15 y/o and move on to my next used car, probably a pickup.

Cassie

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Re: Car Question: miles, or age?
« Reply #10 on: July 11, 2020, 01:09:07 PM »
Most of our cars have lasted 14 years before the cost of repairs gets to high.

nereo

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Re: Car Question: miles, or age?
« Reply #11 on: July 12, 2020, 11:29:23 AM »
I think for mustachians, age will be a driving (pun!) factor more than mileage. The drive trains of modern cars tend to easily last 150K-200K miles, but the rest of the systems start failing at 15 years or so. If you're only driving 8K per year, you'll hit that 15 year mark before the 200K mark.

Curious what 'systems' you think will start failing at 15 years or so, regardless of mileage.  FWIW we have two cars that are each 16 years old, recently serviced and are running great.  I'm not aware of any systems that fail at 15 years regardless of mileage, except when rust/corrosion becomes an issue (which is more a factor of environment)

There's also the issue of safety features -- a similar car 15 years newer will be a lot safer than the older one. I know I would feel like a schmuck if I was driving a 20 y/o car and got injured in a wreck. Great, I saved $10K on the car only to lose $50K in wages while I recovered!

"a lot safer"?  Hmm... here I distinctly disagree (as does data from NHSA). Changes in safety standards aren't linear and progressive.  Instead new safety standards follow techonolgical breakthroughs... ESC, airbags, ABS systems, etc. or with how cars are rated (addition of collision avoidance, side impact ratings, etc).  By the time a feature is mandatory it's already pretty common in previous model years.

Bottom line is that not a lot has changed in vehicle safety in the last 15 years.  ESC became mandatory in 2007 (but again, most cars already had ESC by the early 2000s) and the five-star safety ratings became tougher in 2000 and 2008.  Since then we haven't had any great, fleet-wide improvements in vehicle safety.  And cars built since the early 2000s are among the safest ever made, up to and including the 2021 model year.  But a 2021 model is NOT significantly safer than one built in 2006, all else being similar.

If one wanted to compare modern cars with 'classic' vehicles from before the early 1990s, then absolutely modern cars are safer.  Which is largely a result of ABS, ESC, Airbags and much tougher collision tests which came about in the early 2000s.

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Right now I have a 2014 Fusion Energi that weighs 4,000 lbs. and is incredibly affordable to drive. Barring any major issues, I plan to keep it until it's 15 y/o and move on to my next used car, probably a pickup.

Curious - why would you assume that you'd go from a Ford Fusion to a pickup in 8-10 years from now? I've got absolutely no idea what kind of car I'll want a decade from now, let alone what will be available on the used market.  I do hope it has a high-degree of driverless capabilities (which IMO will be the next mandated leap in vehicle safety).

Boll weevil

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Re: Car Question: miles, or age?
« Reply #12 on: July 13, 2020, 04:32:54 PM »
I heard somewhere that it takes approximately 10 miles for an engine to get up to temperature, so extremely low miles can be misleading if itís the result of a lot of short trips.

I replaced my last car at ~15 years of age and only ~115K miles due to inability to keep antifreeze / suspected cracked head gasket. The last ~2.5 years of its life were 5.5 mile each way commuting back and forth to work.

Iíve owned my current car for 11+ years, same 5.5 mile each way commute, currently at less than 60K miles. Judging by miles alone it ought to be good for another 25-30 years at this rate.  But based on the number of starts, Iím guessing Iíll have to make a decision about repair vs replace in 5-10.

Cassie

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Re: Car Question: miles, or age?
« Reply #13 on: July 13, 2020, 04:46:39 PM »
With being retired we drive much less. Our 12 year Toyota Corolla has 57k miles and 10 years old Honda Accord 100k.  We should have many years left.

ChpBstrd

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Re: Car Question: miles, or age?
« Reply #14 on: July 14, 2020, 01:11:21 PM »
Mileage wears out the parts made of metal:
pistons, rings, transmission parts, bearings, power steering, AC compressor, metal suspension joints, CV joints/differentials, etc. It can also wear out the driver's seat and shock absorbers.

Age deteriorates the parts made of petroleum:
gaskets, dust seals, brake lines/seals, interior, coolant or transmission fluid hoses, air conditioning seals/hoses, insulation on wires, plastic parts, suspension rubber, fuel pump seals, etc. To be clear, these issues start appearing at around 15-20 years. Age can also cause rust inside the engine / head gasket and radiator or can cause the brake fluid to go bad if the fluids have never been changed.

Given the choice, I'd go low mileage. Most of the age issues are leaks/inconveniences which are cheaper to deal with (or ignore) than a worn out motor or transmission. Replace the hoses, flush the fluids, new plug wires, and off you go. Aged cars also feature lower insurance, lower tax rates, and cheaper parts, regardless of your particular car's mileage.